PM agrees on idea explaining digital wallet

PM agrees on idea explaining digital wallet

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Tuesday agreed it's a reasonable idea to have a team communicating information on the digital wallet scheme to the public so to avoid any confusion.

The premier was responding to suggestions from several quarters that a dedicated team be formed, directly responsible for passing information about the government's flagship policy. He agreed it was a good idea and had been on his mind for a while.

Mr Srettha acknowledged that different sets of information about the wallet scheme had been circulated. It would be less confusing for everyone to be patient and wait for the official details of the scheme, which will be announced all at once in due course, he said.

However, before he attended the cabinet meeting, the premier was asked by reporters to comment on a remark by Pichai Chunhavajira, one of his advisers, that the digital wallet programme would likely be delayed until September next year due to a budget shortage. The scheme was initially planned to begin in February.

When asked to confirm if the handout would be delayed as suggested, the prime minister declined to comment and walked away.

Mr Srettha later told reporters he would keep the public up-to-date on the digital wallet committee meeting when information becomes available.

The government has established a main committee overseeing the implementation of the handout scheme. It is expected to hold regular meetings to discuss proposals put forth by a sub-committee which has mulled over possible changes to the policy, such as cutting back on people eligible to receive the digital money, initially being offered to everyone aged 16 and above, regardless of their financial status.

The wallet may also be used within a district where a recipient resides rather than within a 4km radius of their home.

Speaking at a forum organised by the Senate to discuss the handout scheme on Monday, Mr Pichai said the policy would be adjusted to reduce its scope following concerns from critics while adding that the number of eligible people for the programme could be cut to around 40 million.

The financially well-off would be excluded from the scheme to save on the 560-billion-baht budget earmarked for the scheme, according to Mr Pichai.

Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai, meanwhile, said it was the government's responsibility to strictly follow the main objective of the digital wallet policy although "minor" details of the scheme might have to be revised.

More importantly, Mr Phumtham said, a clear reason and explanation will be required to justify changes to the scheme. Asked to confirm whether the February debut of the plan was still valid, he said that since nothing has changed so far, the timeline stands.

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